Many Texas House Deeds Contain Race Restrictions

But such restrictions are unenforceable because they have been struck down by the federal government

By Lita Beck
|  Tuesday, Feb 9, 2010  |  Updated 9:03 AM CDT
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Race Restrictions in Deeds Take Homeowners By Surprise

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Race restrictions in deeds are widespread, but they are also unenforceable.

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Race Restrictions in Deeds Take Homeowners By Surprise

Race restrictions in deeds are widespread, but they are also unenforceable.
More Photos and Videos

House deeds with race restrictions are widespread across Texas, but they are also unenforceable.

Tony Mendina was surprised to find such a restriction when he closed on his East Dallas home.

"No person of any race other than the Caucasian race shall use or occupy any building or any lot," the deed states.

"It's sad; it's just really sad," Mendina said. "We have a great neighborhood here now, and it's sad to think it was less great in the past."

Most homes along Swiss Avenue in the Munger Place section of Dallas have similar restrictions.

"This lot shall be used for residential purposes only and by white persons only," the deed restriction reads.

By some estimates, the deeds to tens of thousands of homes across Texas have wording.

George W. Bush's Dallas neighborhood once had race restrictions, but residents officially removed the wording in 2001.

But even though the restrictions stay with properties as they change hands, they aren't enforceable.

"The federal government basically struck down these restrictions," title attorney Jay Settle said.

The restrictions were seen until the very early 1960s, he said.

But few neighborhoods go to the trouble of removing the restrictions.

"There could be two hundred households; that would mean you have to get 101 households to agree to this, and that would take a lot of time," Settle said.

And some homeowners say the language in the deeds is a good reminder of what has changed.

"It's actually kind of good it's still there where you can see it," said Mendina, who wants to leave the wording in his deed.

"When you visit a Holocaust museum or Pearl Harbor there are warnings, 'Never again. Don't let this happen again,'" he said.

County Commissioner John Wiley Price, whose North Oak Cliff home also has a race restricted, agreed.

"I think people need to be reminded of the ugly past," he said. "The past is history, and we need to remember and understand the history."

NBCDFW's Grant Stinchfield contributed to this report.

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